Violence against men

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Violence against men (VAM), consists of violent acts that are disproportionately or exclusively committed against men. Men are overrepresented as both victims[1][2] and perpetrators of violence.[3][4] Sexual violence against men is treated differently in any given society from that committed against women, and may be unrecognized by international law.[5][6][7][8]


Studies of social attitudes show violence is perceived as more or less serious depending on the gender of victim and perpetrator.[9][10][11] According to a study in the publication Aggressive Behavior, violence against women was about a third more likely to be reported by third parties to the police regardless of the gender of the attacker,[12] although the most likely to be reported gender combination was a male perpetrator and female victim.[12] The use of stereotypes by law enforcement is a recognised issue,[13] and international law scholar Solange Mouthaan argues that, in conflict scenarios, sexual violence against men has been ignored in favor of a focus on sexual violence against women and children.[14] One explanation for this difference in focus is the physical power that men hold over women making people more likely to condemn violence with this gender configuration.[15] The concept of male survivors of violence go against social perceptions of the male gender role, leading to low recognition and few legal provisions.[16] Often there is no legal framework for a woman to be prosecuted when committing violent offenses against a man.[17]

Richard Felson challenges the assumption that violence against women is different from violence against men. The same motives play a role in almost all violence, regardless of gender: to gain control or retribution and to promote or defend self-image.[18]

Writing for TIME, Cathy Young criticised the feminist movement for not doing enough to challenge double standards in the treatment of male victims of physical abuse and sexual assault.[19]

Domestic violence[edit]

In 2013 editor-in-chief of the journal Partner Abuse, John Hamel,[20] set up the Domestic Violence Research Group to create the "Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project (PASK)".[21] PASK found parity in rates of both perpetration and victimisation for men and women.[22]

Men who are victims of domestic violence are at times reluctant to report it or to seek help. According to some commentators there is also a paradigm that only males perpetrate domestic violence and are never victims.[23] Shamita Das Dasgupta and Erin Pizzey are amongst those who argue that, as with other forms of violence against men, intimate partner violence is generally less recognized in society when the victims are men.[24][25] Violence of women against men in relationships is often 'trivialized'[3][26][27] due to the supposed weaker physique of women; in such cases the use of dangerous objects and weapons is omitted.[3] Research since the 1990s has identified issues of perceived and actual bias when police are involved, with the male victim being negated even whilst injured.[28]

Female violence against men[edit]

According to the journalist Martin Daubney "...there remains a theory that men under report their experiences [of violence by women against men] due to a culture of masculine expectations.[29] The official figure in the United Kingdom, for example, is about 50% of the number of acts of violence by men against women, but there are indications that only about 10% of male victims of female violence report the incidents to the authorities, mainly due to taboos and fears of misunderstanding created by a culture of masculine expectations.[30] By comparison 1.9 million people aged 16–59 told the Crime Survey for England and Wales (year ending March 2017), that they were victims of domestic violence and 79% did not report their partner or ex-partner. Of the 1.9 million, approximately 1.2 million were female and 713,000 were male.[31] A Canadian report found that men were 22% more likely to report being victims of spousal violence in their current relationship than women.[30][32] Researchers Stemple and Meyer report that sexual violence by women against men is often understudied or unrecognized.[33]

Forced circumcision[edit]

A patented device designed to prevent masturbation by inflicting electric shocks upon the perpetrator, by ringing an alarm bell, and through spikes at the inner edge of the tube into which the penis is inserted. Circumcision was recommended to prevent masturbation.[34]

Non-therapeutic male circumcision is considered, by several groups, to be a form of violence against young men and boys.[35][36] The International Criminal Court considers forced circumcision to be an "inhumane act".[35] Some court decisions have found it to be a violation of a child's rights.[37] In certain countries, such as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, newborn baby males are routinely circumcised without the child's consent.[38][39] As well, the Jewish and Muslim faiths circumcise boys at a young age.[40] It is also practiced in Coptic Christianity and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.[39][41]

Any cutting whatsoever of a female's genitals, also known as female genital mutilation, has been banned in most Western countries, starting in Sweden in 1982 and the United States in 1997.[42] When Sweden outlawed it in 1982, it became the first Western country to do so.[43]:611 Several former colonial powers, including Belgium, Britain, France and the Netherlands, followed suit, either with new laws or by making clear that it was covered by existing legislation.[44][45][46]

Although a 2012 court ruling in Germany put the practice of male cutting under question, calling circumcision "grievous bodily harm," the German parliament passed a law to keep circumcision of boys legal.[47] As of 2016, cutting of boys' foreskins is still legal worldwide.[38]

Mass killings[edit]

Serbian victims during insurgency in the Kosovo War

In situations of structural violence that include war and genocide, men and boys are frequently singled out and killed.[48] The murder of targets by sex during the Kosovo War, estimates of civilian male victims of mass killings suggest that they made up more than 90% of all civilian casualties.[48]

Non-combatant men and boys have been and continue to be the most frequent targets of mass killing and genocidal slaughter, as well as a host of lesser atrocities and abuses.[49] Gendercide Watch, an independent human rights group, documents multiple gendercides aimed at males (adult and children): The Anfal Campaign,[50] (Iraqi Kurdistan), 1988 – Armenian Genocide[51] (1915–17) – Rwanda, 1994.[52] Forced conscription can also be considered gender-based violence against men.[53]

Sexual violence[edit]

In armed conflict, sexual violence is committed by men against men as psychological warfare in order to demoralize the enemy.[54] The practice is ancient, and was recorded as taking place during the Crusades.[55] Castration is used as a means of physical torture with strong psychological effects, namely the loss of the ability to procreate and the loss of the status of a full man.[55] International criminal law does not consider gender based sexual violence against men a separate type of offense and treats it as war crimes or torture.[56] The culture of silence around this issue often leaves men with no support.[57]

In 2012, a UNHCR report stated that "SGBV (sexual and gender based violence) against men and boys has generally been mentioned as a footnote in reports".[58] In one study, less than 3% of organizations that address rape as a weapon of war, mention men or provide services to male victims.[6][8][59] It was noted in 1990 that the English language is "bereft of terms and phrases which accurately describe male rape".[60]


Homicide statistics according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics[61]
Male offender/Male victim 65.3%
Male offender/Female victim 22.7%
Female offender/Male victim 9.6%
Female offender/Female victim 2.4%

In the U.S., crime statistics from the 1976 onwards show that men make up the majority of the homicide perpetrators regardless if the victim is female or male. Men are also over-represented as victims in homicide involving both male and female offenders.[61] According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women who kill men are most likely to kill acquaintances, spouses or boyfriends while men are more likely to kill strangers.[62] In many cases, women kill men due to being victims of intimate partner violence,[63] however it should be noted that this research was conducted on women on death row, a sample size of approximately 97 during the last 100 years.[64]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Felson, Richard (2002). Violence & gender reexamined. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. p. abstract. ISBN 9781557988959.
  2. ^ "What is gendercide?". Gendercide Watch. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Young, Cathy (June 25, 2014). "The surprising truth about women and violence". TIME. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  4. ^ Woolf, N. Quentin (9 April 2014). "Our attitude to violence against men is out of date". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  5. ^ Lewis, Dustin (2009). "Unrecognized victims: sexual violence against men in conflict settings under international law". Wisconsin International Law Journal. University of Wisconsin Law School. 27 (1): 1–49. SSRN 1404574. Pdf.
  6. ^ a b DelZotto, Augusta; Jones, Adam (March 2002). Male-on-male sexual violence in wartime: human rights' last taboo?. Paper presented to the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA). New Orleans, LA. pp. 23–27. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  7. ^ United Nations Population Fund (2002). Impact of armed conflict on women and girls. p. 64.
  8. ^ a b Stemple, Lara (February 2009). "Male rape and human rights". Hastings Law Journal. Hastings College of the Law. 60 (3): 605–647. Pdf.
  9. ^ Golden, Tom. "Male Bashing in Mental Health Research" (PDF). Men Are Good. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  10. ^ Munirkazmi, Syeda Sana; Mohyuddin, Anwaar (December 2012). "Violence against men (a case study of Naiabaadichaakra, Rawalpindi)" (PDF). International Journal of Environment, Ecology, Family and Urban Studies (IJEEFUS). Trans Stellar. 2 (4): 1–10.
  11. ^ Feather, Norm T. (October 1996). "Domestic violence, gender, and perceptions of justice". Sex Roles. Springer. 35 (7–8): 507–519. doi:10.1007/BF01544134.
  12. ^ a b Felson, Richard B.; Feld, Scott L. (November–December 2009). "When a man hits a woman: moral evaluations and reporting violence to the police". Aggressive Behavior. Wiley. 35 (6): 477–488. doi:10.1002/ab.20323. PMID 19746441.
  13. ^ Brown, Grant A. (June 2004). "Gender as a factor in the response of the law-enforcement system to violence against partners". Sexuality and Culture. Springer. 8 (3–4): 3–139. doi:10.1007/s12119-004-1000-7.
  14. ^ Mouthaan, Solange (2013). "Sexual violence against men and international law – criminalising the unmentionable". International Criminal Law Review. Brill. 13 (3): 665–695. doi:10.1163/15718123-01303004.
  15. ^ Hamby, Sherry; Jackson, Amy (September 2010). "Size does matter: the effects of gender on perceptions of dating violence". Sex Roles. Springer. 63 (5–6): 324–331. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9816-0.
  16. ^ Onyango, Monica Adhiambo; Hampanda, Karen (2011). "Social constructions of masculinity and male survivors of wartime sexual violence: an analytical review". International Journal of Sexual Health. Taylor and Francis. 23 (4): 237–247. doi:10.1080/19317611.2011.608415.
  17. ^ S., Sowmya (July 22, 2015). "Sexual assault on men: crime that is a reality". Hindustan Times. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  18. ^ Robinson, Gail Erlick (September 2003). "Violence and gender reexamined". American Journal of Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. 160 (9): 1711–1712. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.9.1711.
  19. ^ Young, Cathy (September 26, 2014). "Sorry, Emma Watson, but HeForShe is rotten for men". TIME. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  20. ^ John, Hamel (ed.). "Partner abuse new directions in research, intervention, and policy". Springer. ISSN 1946-6560.
  21. ^ "About PASK, the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project". DV Research.
  22. ^ Salem, Dara (May 21, 2013). "Unprecedented domestic violence study affirms need to recognize male victims" (Press release). Springer. PRWEB.
  23. ^ Woods, Michael (October 19, 2007). "The rhetoric and reality of men and violence" (pdf). Men's Health Australia. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 2, 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
  24. ^ Das Dasgupta, Shamita (November 2002). "A framework for understanding women's use of nonlethal violence in intimate heterosexual relationships". Violence Against Women. Sage. 8 (11): 1364–1389. doi:10.1177/107780102237408.
  25. ^ Pizzey, Erin (2011). This way to the revolution: a memoir. London Chicago: Peter Owen. p. 114. ISBN 9780720615210.
  26. ^ Schlesinger Buzawa, Eva; Buzawa, Carl G. (2003), "Factors affecting police response", in Schlesinger Buzawa, Eva; Buzawa, Carl G. (eds.). Domestic violence: the criminal justice response (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7619-2448-7.
    Citing both:
    and more recent contradictory research:
    • Buzawa, Eve S.; Hotaling, Gerald T. (2000). The police response to domestic violence calls for assistance in three Massachusetts towns: Final report. Washington, D.C.: National Institute for Justice.
  27. ^ Dutton, Donald G. (2011), "The domestic assault of men", in Dutton, Donald G. (ed.). Rethinking domestic violence. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 148. ISBN 9780774859875.
  28. ^ Buzawa, Eve S.; Austin, Thomas (May 1993). "Determining police response to domestic violence victims: the role of victim preference". American Behavioral Scientist. Sage. 36 (5): 610–623. doi:10.1177/0002764293036005006.
  29. ^ Daubney, Martin (15 March 2016). "Why female violence against men is society's last great taboo". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  30. ^ a b Daubney, Martin (15 March 2016). "Why female violence against men is society's last great taboo". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
    • 1) "...more women than men suffer domestic abuse in Britain (4.5m women versus 2.2m men over the age of 16, according to the ONS [Office for National Statistics])."
    • 2) " are more likely to suffer spousal violence, with 342,000 women and 418,000 men suffering abuse in the preceding five years to 2014."
  31. ^ ONS (2017). "Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2017". Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  32. ^ "Table 1.2 Victims of self-reported spousal violence within the past 5 years, by sex, 2004, 2009 and 2014". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  33. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor (November 28, 2016). "The understudied female sexual predator". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  34. ^ Allan Ngari. "Sexual violence against men and boys in CAR". Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  35. ^ a b Staff writer (24 April 2011). "Plea to ICC over forced male circumcision". Irin Analysis. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  36. ^ Other groups:
  37. ^ Hebblethwaite, Cordelia (21 August 2012). "Circumcision, the ultimate parenting dilemma". BBC News. Washington DC. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  38. ^ a b UNAIDS; WHO (2010). Neonatal and child male circumcision: a global review (pdf). Geneva: UNAIDS and WHO. ISBN 9789291738557.
  39. ^ a b UNAIDS; WHO (2007). Male circumcision: Global trends and determinants of prevalence, safety and acceptability (pdf). Geneva: UNAIDS and WHO. ISBN 9789241596169.
  40. ^ Glass, J.M. (January 1999). "Religious circumcision: a Jewish view". BJU International. Wiley. 83 (S1): 17–21. doi:10.1046/j.1464-410x.1999.0830s1017.x. PMID 10349410.
  41. ^ "Circumcision". Columbia Encyclopedia. New York Detroit: Columbia University Press. 2011. ISBN 9780787650155.
  42. ^ Laws governing female genital mutilation:
  43. ^ Essén, Birgitta; Johnsdotter, Sara (July 2004). "Female genital mutilation in the West: traditional circumcision versus genital cosmetic surgery". Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. Wiley. 83 (7): 611–613. doi:10.1111/j.0001-6349.2004.00590.x. PMID 15225183.
  44. ^ Mary Coussey (April 2002). "Tackling racial equality: international comparisons" (PDF).
  45. ^ Moira Dustin (2006). "Gender equality, cultural diversity: European comparisons and lessons Moira Dustin" (PDF).
  46. ^ "What Men Have to Do With It: Public Policies to Promote Gender Equality" (PDF). October 2016.
  47. ^ Staff writer (December 12, 2012). "Circumcision remains legal in Germany". DW.COM. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  48. ^ a b Jones, Adam (June 2000). "Gendercide and genocide". Journal of Genocide Research. Taylor and Francis. 2 (2): 185–211. doi:10.1080/713677599. View online.
  49. ^ HSR (2005), "Assault on the vulnerable", in HSR (ed.). Human security report 2005: war and peace in the 21st century. New York Oxford: Published for the Human Security Center, University if British Columbia, Canada by Oxford University Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780195307399. Citing Jones (2000), "Gendercide and genocide" p. 186.
  50. ^ "Case Study: The Anfal Campaign (Iraqi Kurdistan), 1988". Gendercide Watch.
  51. ^ "Case Study: The Armenian Genocide,1915–17". Gendercide Watch.
  52. ^ "Case Study: Genocide in Rwanda, 1994". Gendercide Watch.
  53. ^ Carpenter, R. Charli (March 2006). "Recognizing gender-based violence against civilian men and boys in conflict situations". Security Dialogue. Sage. 37 (1): 83–103. doi:10.1177/0967010606064139.
  54. ^ Storr, Will (17 July 2011). "The rape of men: the darkest secret of war". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  55. ^ a b Sivakumaran, Sandesh (April 2007). "Sexual violence against men in armed conflict". European Journal of International Law. Oxford Journals. 18 (2): 253–276. doi:10.1093/ejil/chm013.
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  57. ^ Staff writer (13 October 2011). "HEALTH: Rape as a "weapon of war" against men". Irin News. Cape Town. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  58. ^ "UNHCR issues guidelines on protection of male rape victims" (Press release). UNHCR. Oct 8, 2012. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  59. ^ "Rape as a weapon of war: men suffer, too". TIME. August 3, 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  60. ^ McMullen, Richie (1990), "The consequences of male rape", in McMullen, Richie (ed.). Male rape: breaking the silence on the last taboo. London: Gay Men's Press (GMP). p. 83. ISBN 9780854491261.
  61. ^ a b "Homicide trends in the United States" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  62. ^ Greenfeld, Lawrence A.; Snell, Tracy L. (December 1999). "Bureau of Justice Statistics – Special Report – Women Offenders" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics. p. 14. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  63. ^ Farr, Kathryn Ann (July 1997). "Aggravating and differentiating factors in the cases of white and minority women on death row". Crime & Delinquency. Sage. 43 (3): 260–278. doi:10.1177/0011128797043003002. They [women on death row] typically kill people they know, primarily men - most often husbands or lovers in domestic encounters (Mann 1996; Campbell 1993; Silverman et al. 1993; Weisheit 1993; Browne 1987; Goetting 1987; Wilbanks 1983). ... Many female murderers have killed husbands or boyfriends who battered them repeatedly (Gillespie 1989; Browne 1987).
  64. ^ "Women and the death penalty: facts and figures". Death Penalty Information Center.